Most parents want nothing more than for their children to be healthy and happy. While many things factor into our health, food is a big one. The more diverse our food intake is, the less likely we are to have nutritional gaps. Therefore, as parents, we like to see our children eating a variety of foods. Sometimes our little ones just aren’t having it though.
How to Help Your Child Try New Foods and Become a Diverse Eater
1- Exposure without pressure.
I am a huge fan of Ellyn Satter’s division of responsibility (DOR) in feeding. DOR divides certain responsibilities between child and parent. Kids are responsible for deciding if they eat and how much they eat. It may be tough, but parents aren’t supposed to interfere with their children’s responsibilities. So that means no pushing, punishing, or bribing to get your kids to eat something.
Parents have a responsibility to provide food to their children. With that comes a responsibility to decide what, when, and where the food is served. DOR is a well-studied approach to feeding and has been shown time and time again to result in children eating the same thing their parents eat.
In using this to diversify your child’s palate, the first step is exposing your child to a variety of foods that you yourself will eat. Then not pressuring or bribing them to eat it.
2- Get the kids involved.
This could be finding fun easy things they can help you prepare (like this recipe for creamy crunchy baked chicken), talking to them about where food comes from, and/or taking them shopping to pick out some interesting-looking produce.
Regardless of how you get them involved, they will be more excited to try new things the more they are involved in and understand the process.
3- Be patient.
It takes people an average of 7 times of trying a new food before they will accept it. That means sometimes they will like it from the 1st bite. Sometimes it will take a lot of exposure before accepting a new food.
Even if your child doesn’t start off as an adventurous eater, with the right support they can grow into a diverse eater over time. The best thing you can do as a parent is to expose them to a variety of foods on a regular basis, stay emotionally neutral around food, and be patient because it will take time.